This is a guest post by Ali Mostofian of Orange Marketing, who kindly wrote this post after talking on Facebook about his personal experiences relating to the original article, Why you should not help friends

After I saw the blog post by Dennis Yu “Why you should not help friends”, we started a nice conversation on Facebook about how uncomfortable it is to help friends or family. I am not talking about normal things like moving, or relationship problems. I am talking about your own job and profession. I would like to report on some experiences that I have collected in the past few years during my entrepreneurship.

I have been working for about 10 years in online marketing field now. So I have many experiences on building Web pages, SEO, SEM, CRM, and Social Media. This is why many friends, family or even old colleagues often ask me for it, if they want to start their own business. I think this is just normal, that you go to the person who you like or trust, but the problem is the appreciation. In most cases they want high quality service in short time for little to no money.

Here are two stories from me. You will clearly see the difference between doing it for money, or just because you only want help- An ugly thing, unfortunately.

One family member asked me about 3 years ago, if I could build him a web page and help him with SEO, SEM and Social Media Marketing. He is a consultant for insurance on a freelance basis and he just wanted to push his business with recommendations and online marketing, so he came to me with this. This is a job for about 3 to 5 weeks, just because he didn’t even know how to write content for a web page.

I made a price agreement with him, which was 50% below my normal price and from there, the nightmare began: Unreliability, lack of respect, and insolence. The whole thing took almost 6 months. I got my money in three installments, almost 1 year later. I will never do it again…

 

As we started to work on the project, I thought we would only need a few weeks. I had to setup a domain with emails and I have decided to use WordPress because it’s easy to edit content and it offers lot of possibilities with different plugins, like SEO, SWYN, and many others.

Everything seemed to happen pretty easily, I just needed a cool design. I decided to build one with Artisteer- It’s a really cool theme editor for WordPress, Joomla and other content management systems. I prepared everything and asked him for the contents, but from there, it was a nightmare! I wrote many emails, called him several times, and after about 3 or 4 weeks I got 5 lines for the homepage. After another 3 or 4 months and tons of emails and calls, I got the rest.

The biggest trouble I had with him was that he didn’t take my efforts seriously and didn’t respect the time which I spent on the project. He wanted to have everything just perfect but he was not willing to do what was necessary. He often didn’t answer my calls or emails or he promised me to send me contents but then I got nothing and again no answers to my phone calls or emails or text messages.

He held no meetings but often complained about the results: He doesn’t like the color, The text formatting is not right, and the greatest insolence was his allegations that I made lot of mistakes because he is not at the top of Google’s search results after only few weeks.

I would never ever work with family or friends again!

A very good friend of mine started his own local business about 2 years ago and I saw that he is struggling with the awareness of his brand. He is good at his job and offers nearly perfect customer service. However, all of these don’t help if nobody knows you. As I saw his problems, I decided myself to help him with no charge. Just because we grew up together and I’ve known him for around 20 years, and he would do the same for me.

Because he knows me and trusts me and he knew what he would normally pay for it, he was very grateful and behaved always very respectful and friendly. Of course, he also knew that he had to be thankful for that because he has no right to my help and my knowledge. We have been working for about 18 month together now, as you know, marketing, customer service and management are all ongoing processes.

We always have a great time together and I have also learned a lot of things in this time, which has brought me further in my job. Marketing and management are about people- not technology, that is the best thing I have learned in this time

 

Here are some questions we had for Ali:

What were the keys for a good relationship?

Honesty, respect and clear goals. Don’t promise anything you are not sure about that you can keep. Always respect other people, their life, their habits, and beliefs. Don’t judge anyone without knowing them and their journey. Be clear in what you want to achieve together. This would prevent lot of misunderstandings. In private as well in business relationships, you have to always follow these three simple rules- In fact, in business life, you should be less emotional.

How about warning signs of trouble?

It varies from case to case. Here you have to be very sensitive and not lose track. It’s all about people and their feelings. If you try to get to know the people with whom you are in any kind of a relationship,then you’ll also notice quickly if they feel unhappy. Then you should react and resolve the problems from the beginning. Working with friends or family is not difficult just because they don’t want to respect you or they aren’t honest or smart enough, rather because they assume to enjoy more privileges and take cooperation as you being friendly, not professional.